Last summer, in 2020 whilst I was in Donegal, Sara Shinton (Director of the Network) contacted me to ask if Queen’s University would be interested in joining a proposal to set up the FLF Development Network. Fortunately, we said yes and I have taken on the role of Northern Ireland FLFDN Hub contact. Queen’s strong reputation in the commercialisation of research is informing the programme of activity for the FLF+s. Recently, I have provided support for the FLF Mentoring Programme and I feed into the Network as a member of the Project Board.
Over past year I have been lucky enough to meet with Future Leaders Fellows at Queen’s University Belfast, where I work as a Learning and Development Consultant. My main focus in this role is to support the professional and career development of research/postdoc staff, which brings me into contact with the broad range of fellowship holders.
My role has evolved over the 15 years that I have been part of the University’s staff learning and development team. Although we still run many workshop style activities, all online at present, we have also introduced other approaches to staff learning over time. This has included coaching in different formats, including traditional 1-2-1 and also peer coaching, which has proved very beneficial for the researchers who have participated.
Alongside access to coaching opportunities, we have enhanced and made more visible the opportunities for mentoring, encouraging and supporting the development of formal schemes in schools and enhancing support for mentors in both formal and informal mentoring settings. I would encourage all Fellows to think about developing a network of mentors and coaches, really just people you can talk to about work, your wellbeing and life in general.
The Future Leaders Fellows at Queen’s are also members of our Fellowship Academy. The Academy was launched in January 2020 and has been a focal point for all our fellowship holders. Unfortunately, we have not been able to meet up and network, both professionally and socially, as much as we had planned, with many activities held on MS Teams over the past year. I’m looking forward to getting back on campus and out into Belfast’s great pubs with the Fellows over the next year!